The Lilly Library holds a major collection of medical books from all ages. Even a selection of highlights would amount to several hundred items and would exceed the display space available. Therefore this exhibition focuses primarily on the seventeenth century, the time of William Harvey and the discovery of the circulation of the blood, arguably the most significant anatomical discovery of all times.
Alongside Harvey's findings, the seventeenth century witnessed other major innovations, such as the rise of microscopic anatomy, of sophisticated injection techniques, and of anatomical experiments that transformed the understanding of the body's structure and organization.
Anatomia Animata is a phrase used at the time referring to vivisection, a technique common to many investigations, including Harvey's. But it also conveys the sense of animation that can be seen in many of the striking images of anatomical and medical books on display in the exhibition.
While the holdings of medical books at Lilly have been exceptional since the establishment of the library, a number of remarkable recent acquisitions have further enriched the collection both intellectually and visually. These novel acquisitions, which can be seen in this exhibition, strengthen the role of Lilly as one of the premier libraries in the history of medicine in the country.
Domenico Bertoloni Meli
Center for the History of Medicine